Advice from the Top. Learning to empower others can help you advance your own career

December 26, 2007

CB101168In the midst of readying myself and my family for the holidays (and holding down a full-time job), I’ve found myself lost in thought from time to time over the last week – standing in line buying holiday lights, writing my to-do lists, wrapping gifts.  I’ve thought: “If I only had an army of elves to help out, I could enjoy this time of year with a little more gusto and a little less stress!”

One of the keys to keeping your sanity and health as you strive to do more is in knowing what is realistic and attainable when you’re setting goals.

If you (or other women you know) want some help learning how to set realistic goals, I recommend that you read my book Your Career, Your Way!  It walks you through a proven and easy-to-follow process for examining your desires and abilities, setting realistic goals, and creating a plan for attaining those goals that works for you!

In this final installment of my six-part “Secrets of Success” blog series, you’ll meet a top-notch female executive with some other great advice for how to keep your sanity and maintain your strength and health by learning to empower others.  Great advice that could help you create an army of elves to help you find more time and energy to commit to reaching your goals.

Part 6:  Colleen Barrett, President of Southwest Airlines

Colleen Barrett is the soon-to-retire President of Southwest Airlines.  She began working for the company in 1978 as a secretary of the corporation. She worked as vice president of administration from 1986 to 1990, executive vice president of customers from 1990 to 2001, and President from 2001 to the present.  She will retire just over six months from now in July 2008.  In this article I found in the Costco Connection, Barrett offers some great advice and proves to be a great role model for just about everyone in business.

After reading the article, I conclude that some of the reasons for her success follow:

  1. You’ll almost never hear her use the work, “I”.  She is a team player and promotes a team atmosphere (every employee has a vested interest in Southwest’s success).  And she is always quick to give credit to others where credit is due.
  2. She believes in empowering employees.  She has a passion for communication and believes communicating is of the utmost importance.  She says that she gives employees “the freedom to be themselves, the freedom of individuality.”  She goes on to state that, “Our folks really get that it’s OK to make decisions on their own.  They don’t have to go through 15 layers.”
  3. She works to promote a community atmosphere.  She works hard to have the right people in place and is incredibly disciplined about mentoring and coaching employees.  She looks for people who truly care about others, for people who are more focused on others than on themselves.
  4. She values humor.  She looks for people who will take the business seriously, but not themselves.  “A sense of humor is a must.”

~ Lisa Quast


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